29 Apr 2003

Forcible land eviction in Vanuatu could land paramount chief in court

4:37 pm on 29 April 2003

The Paramount Chief of Ifira island near Port Vila in Vanuatu may be summoned to court to explain why he allegedly forcibly evicted a man who was married to a local woman.

Chief Mantoi Kalsakau is said to have authorised his council to bind the hands of Taura Thomas, who was then driven to a plane which flew him back to his home island of Tanna.

Mr Thomas returned to Port Vila after his lawyer lodged a claim of unlawful arrest and associated damages.

The lawyer says Mr Thomas can prove that he and his wife have a right to live on Ifira after his wife's father gave them land.

The incident is before the newly introduced lands tribunal, which is dealing with disputes over the right to land acquired through marriage.